A 5 year pilot scheme is being introduced to English schools, which will focus on teaching children cyber security skills in a bid to fill a skills gap in this area across the UK.
Cyber Crime Now an Important National Issue.
The risk of criminals (or foreign powers) hacking into critical UK computer systems ranks as one of the top four threats to national security. The importance of combating cyber crime as a national and an international issue has been brought into sharp focus over the last year by (for example) :
- Reports last year (such as Symantec’s in April) showing a big increase in cyber crimes such as online fraud in the UK.
- Multiple high profile data breaches reported in the media such as the Tesco bank hack (and theft).
- State-sponsored hacking threats outlined in Chancellor Philip Hammond’s National Cyber Security Strategy speech.
- Alleged state-sponsored hacking in the US elections.
- The setting up of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) with help from GCHQ, and the introduction of the National Cyber Security Programme, including ‘CyberFirst’.
- A warning by the Commons committee last week that a cyber skills shortage is undermining confidence in the UK's cyber defences.
The Skills Gap.
The recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report highlights concerns about the UK government’s efforts to protect government data from attackers, with one of these concerns being for the apparent lack of suitable cyber security skills in the country i.e. a cyber skills gap.
The New Pilot Scheme.
Under the new five-year pilot scheme, 5,700 pupils aged 14 over in English schools will spend up to four hours a week studying cyber security. The lessons will take the form of classroom and online teaching, including the setting of real-world challenges, and the introduction of work experience opportunities from September this year. The lessons will fit around the pupils’ current courses and exams.
£20 Million To Spend.
It has been reported that The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is providing £20m for the new cyber security lessons, and the intention is that:
- Pupils can learn cutting-edge cyber security skills which could help them to find employment in a fast-growing cyber security industry that currently employs 58,000 experts.
- Talent in this area can be identified and nurtured.
- UK businesses and governments can benefit from the skills of home-grown cyber-security experts, and the skills gap can be significantly narrowed in the near future.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Businesses and governments need to get together and find effective ways to bridge the widening cyber-skills gap. Both governments and businesses are targets for cyber criminals, and both would benefit from the outcomes of the up-to-date education and training of a new generation of cyber security experts. This pilot, along with other initiatives could go some way to narrowing a UK cyber security skills gap, and therefore reducing the risk of each of us becoming a victim of cyber crime.